Bi-Partisan Climate Bills Pending this Spring in U.S. Senate, House

WASHINGTON, DC (March 29, 2004) — As the ski and snowboard season is winding down, more than sixty-five ski resorts around the country are urging U.S. Senators to pass the bi-partisan global warming bill introduced by Arizona Republican John McCain and Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman. The ski companies say warming caused by heat-trapping pollution could mean shorter, more unpredictable seasons and reduced snowfall.

The same snowpack that brings skiers and boarders to the mountains also serves as a frozen reservoir supplying water to large portions of the Mountain West. Global warming also affects temperature and snowpack in the Mountain West, exacerbating the effects of drought.

The bi-partisan Climate Stewardship Act, sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), came within seven votes of passing the Senate last fall. A companion measure will be introduced tomorrow in the House of Representatives.

“Winter is short enough already. It’s time to start fixing the global warming problem,” said Geraldine Link, public policy director for the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), an industry association. “Thousands of people count on dependable winters for a living. But it’s more than just business. Global warming also threatens the quality of life in some of the most unique mountain environments in America.”

The ski area effort is part of Keep Winter Cool (www.keepwintercool.org ), a joint campaign by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). They say global warming is a bottom line issue for a $3 billion ski industry and its tens of thousands of employees. Protecting the winter climate is also crucial for nearly 12 million U.S. skiers and snowboarders.

“Protecting the powder is only one of many reasons we need to fight global warming,” said Daniel Lashof, Science Director for NRDC’s Climate Center. “Now we have both houses of Congress catching on as well, proposing reasonable solutions that will cut global warming pollution.”

The sixty-seven resorts supporting McCain/Lieberman include fourteen from Colorado; seven from California; six each from New York and Vermont; five from Washington State; four from New Hampshire and Oregon; three each from Idaho, Pennsylvania and Utah; two each from Maine, Virginia and Wyoming; and one each from Michigan, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Scientists predict that global warming will lead to more drought and shorter ski seasons due to unseasonably warm weather. Skiing won’t be alone in facing impacts. More frequent water shortages and wildfires will cause widespread economic and environmental damage if global warming pollution remains unchecked.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members and activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.